Winnick Woods in Cape Elizabeth got even sweeter last summer.

The 1.7-mile loop trail is a fine spot to walk the dog or go for a run. A couple of years ago, when I thought I might become a trail runner, I spent many afternoons here plodding along the trail, leaping over roots and rocks. Okay, maybe “leaping” is misleading. My trail running career was short lived. But for those who do, for real, run trails, this is a nice, beginner-friendly spot.

It’s also a popular ride for mountain bikers. But thanks to those aforementioned roots and rocks – and some hills – the trail wasn’t very friendly to beginner mountain bikers.

A mountain biker and his dog head back to the parking lot after riding the trails at Winnick Woods in Cape Elizabeth. Shannon Bryan photo

But that changed last summer when the Winnick Wander trail was officially opened.

The beginning of the new Winnick Wander trail, with its consistent grades and smoother surface. Shannon Bryan
A young rider on the new Winnick Wander trail. Shannon Bryan photo

The Winnick Wander trail is a 1.5-mile loop that was added to the trail network – and it was expressly designed as a multi-use trail for walkers, runners, and mountain bikers of ALL levels. The consistent grades and smoother surface make it particularly accessible to novice riders and kids.

The Winnick Wander project was co-led by Jamie Wright, owner of Gorham Bike and Ski, and Jim Tasse of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. A combination of new and old rehabilitated trails, Winnick Wander is a machine-built trail, a method that improves a trail’s ability to hold up to heavy use, reduces maintenance and minimizes the impact of erosion by directing water off the trail. Read more about the process and the perks of machine-built trails.

As a beginner mountain biker myself, I was excited to check it out. I hoped to run into a mountain biker or two on the trail, so I could get a couple of photos of the trails in action. To my delight, there were lots of walkers and riders making use of it – including a handful of dads and their kids mountain biking together.

So yes, this trail really is novice-friendly and kid-friendly. But it’s not just some straight, wide dirt path through the woods. The trail has loads of turns and berms that wind through trees and past open fields. It’s swerving and fun, but without those roots and rocks and steep inclines that challenge new riders. (But when you are ready for those roots and rocks, just ride on to the older loop. The roots and rocks will be waiting for you.)

To get to the new Winnick Wander, you’ll park in the same lot off Sawyer Road in Cape Elizabeth and head down the pre-existing trail. Shortly after going over the short bridge, the Winnick Wander trail splits off to the left. It wasn’t marked in any way when I was just there, but I suspect some signs will go up soon. The Winnick Wander trail is a loop, so it’ll meet back up with the main trail (go right to return to the parking lot).

Thanks to Jamie Wright and Jim Tasse and all the volunteers who helped bring this trail to fruition. It’s clear that riders off all varieties are already smitten with it.

Winnick Wander

At Winnick Woods, Sawyer Road, Cape Elizabeth
1.5-mile multi-use trail of consistent grades and a smoother surface, perfect for beginner mountain bikers and kids.

Note: This post was originally published Sept. 9, 2018